Although I fall quite short of the mark, I am a great proponent of balance. It is something I seek daily. As a Jesus-Follower, I also strive to be obedience. Obedience unlocks the key to God’s blessings. If we do this, he will do that.
“If you keep my commandments, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commands and remain in his love.” John 15:10
We are called to a life of obedience, even as Jesus was. And this is not just about the promised abundant blessings. My obedience is worship, respect and honour. It’s about love. I am obedient because I love my Father.
“And through your descendants all the nations of the earth will be blessed-all because you have obeyed me.” Genesis 22:18
The Bible is rich with stories of people who obeyed and were blessed, and of those who disobeyed and suffered for it. God is serious about this. He tells us we must not hold anything else above him. He even calls himself a jealous God in Exodus 34:14
Noah was obedient and was saved from the flood.
Samson’s disobedience led to his own destruction.
Moses was obedient and led the Israelites to freedom.
Jonah was disobedient and was swallowed by a whale.
Daniel was obedient serving God despite the King’s orders.
But here’s the thing. To many people, obedience to God sounds like a lot of rules they just don’t want to sign up for. They feel they will lose their freedom if they follow Jesus. So let’s take wee look at freedom, like obedience, another huge subject.
We are trying to teach my 15 year old granddaughter the balance between gradually gaining her own freedom while being obedient. I don’t mind saying it is a struggle. Because she feels she has certain knowledge in specific areas, that doesn’t necessarily provide her with the skillset required. For example, she may have studied the human body at school and watched all of Grey’s Anatomy yet she is not free to perform surgery. I may have watched all the reno shows and even tackled my own a time or two, yet I lack the skillset to walk into any home and upgrade it. I’m exaggerating of course but it seems to me that it is equally absurd to think freedom allows me to do whatever I wish. My point is we must know our own skills and aptitudes, our own realistic parameters and limits, and function within them. I know what I am capable of and the rest I leave up to my loving Father. This is true freedom.
Moreover, I must keep in mind that my freedom, my actions without restraint or necessity, must not adversely affect those around me. If it does this leads to confused mayhem, clearly evident more and more as we age. My freedom does not allow me to behave recklessly or cause harm to myself or others. This is not restricting. This is wisdom. This is love just as Jesus demonstrated. Yes, he could have saved himself by summoning a legion of angels to rescue him from the cross but then he would not have been obedient to the Father. Obedience and freedom come at a cost, a very high cost. Yet we must not abandon it. That only serves to make it more precious as any soldier knows.
Following Jesus therefore does not rob us of our freedom. He created us. And as our creator, He knows our abilities, what we need to safeguard our life. Thus, the obedience that he requires allows us to live our very best life with him at the helm. This is faith. To veer away from this only ends in chaos and disaster.
Plus, God tells us to forgive others as he has forgiven us. I want to be obedient but, oh man, when someone hurts me forgiveness and obedience is not the first thing I think of. I’m angry and I don’t like to admit that for a time I can’t get past the hurt. But as I seek to be obedient I must remember that my first response should be offering up a prayer for the other person. You know, although reams have been written about forgiveness we still struggle with it, don’t we. One thing God has shown me in managing a very deep hurt from life-long friends is that even though I felt my stance on the incident was right both then and now, I unintentionally hurt them by not siding with them, and that is why I needed to ask them to forgive me. My lack of support to them in what I felt was wrong hurt them nonetheless. I am not free to hurt others even in this way. That was a huge revelation to me and it took a long time for me to see it this way. While I was indeed free to choose my stance on the subject my freedom hurt people I cared about… so I was wrong. There had to have been a better way.
Yes, Jesus was absolutely free and he absolutely had the ability to save himself but in love and obedience he chose to forgive and save me instead!